The SPS team is continuing to scrutinise planning matters across the county as we primarily work from home.  The following is an overview of our work and involvements in the past month including  links to our representations.

Key Involvements:

East Anglia 1(N) and East Anglia 2 off-shore windfarms – SPS responded to amendments to the onshore infrastructure at Friston to support the proposed offshore windfarms, namely: micro-siting of the substations further away from some of the affected heritage assets, reduction in footprint of the substations and reduction in the height of some of the structures, together with additional visualisations to fully inform the likely landscape and visual impacts. Our comprehensive response concluded that while the amendments were welcome they were insufficient to mitigate the harm to the historic landscape and heritage assets at Friston.

Halesworth Campus, health and sports facilities plans have come forward for phase 1 of a the scheme on an allocated site which includes the old Middle School at Halesworth.  SPS has reviewed the plans and supports the principle of this significant scheme (more details of the Halesworth Campus).

However, we have raised concerns regarding the implications of the submitted plans for future phases.  In particular an area of the site has been earmarked for a sports hall and swimming pool and although no details of the building are yet available, this would be within the setting of a listed farmhouse.  The farmhouse currently sits relatively remote from the town and previously had been used as an isolation hospital.  We therefore urged that the impact of the whole scheme on heritage assets should be assessed at this stage in order to fully inform the final design and layout.

Thurston, Norton Road housing development – SPS submitted a further strong objection to the latest scheme by Linden (Thurston) LLP to increase the number of approved dwellings by more than 60, contrary to Thurston Neighbourhood Plan (NP) policies.

SPS fully supports the parish council who also strongly object to officer’s willingness to give limited weight to the adopted NP, fundamentally undermining the democratic process by ignoring the wishes of the local community.

We also strongly critiqued the mundane design of the standardised housing estate and commented that the government’s recent clear emphasis on raising design standards, as set out in the recent White Paper and other reports, has not been adequately reflected in the standard of design offered by the proposals.

Land at Stowmarket earmarked for Gateway 14 – photo: Sealand

Stowmarket, Gateway 14 – SPS has examined plans for an industrial and commercial site at Stowmarket, known as Gateway 14.  The site has long been earmarked for employment and a Development Brief was drawn up in 2014.  We assessed the proposals in terms of their impact on the landscape and called for enhancements to the boundary planting where this fell short of the requirements of the Development Brief.

We also urged for conditions to be placed on the lighting of this extensive site to minimise light pollution of the night sky.

Erwarton Barns residential conversion – we have previously expressed concerns regarding the intensive proposals to convert the group of agricultural buildings to 7 dwellings which is considered to harm their simple agricultural character together with the setting of the adjoining highly graded heritage assets at Erwarton Hall and the quality of the AONB.

SPS has now responded to further revisions to the scheme in response to concerns about light pollution, rejecting the proposed series of louvres, shutters and curtains to limit light spillage.

We also are pleased to report that Historic England are also objecting to the proposed new access to overcome highway safety objections. Creating a long drive through an adjoining paddock would be intrusive and potentially suburbanising in this deeply rural location.

Cockfield, 2 dwellings at Horseshoes Innfollowing the refusal of an outline application for up to 4 dwellings to the rear of the listed Inn, an amended full application for two 5 bedroom houses has been submitted.  We have continued to resist the proposals as long views through to the countryside beyond the Inn will be obscured and the established linear pattern of the cluster of buildings will be undermined.

Planning outcomes of interest to SPS:

Vanguard off-shore windfarm, Norfolk – approval quashed. A Development Consent Order (DCO) for Vanguard, a windfarm off the Norfolk Coast that was granted in Summer 2020, has been quashed in the High Court on the grounds that the decision did not adequately consider cumulative impact. The full decision can be read here

SPS together with many other local groups have consistently argued that cumulative impacts of multiple energy proposals on the proposed substation site at Friston should be assessed as part of the Development Consent Order by Scottish Power Renewables. We are interested to see what, if any, implications this has for the Examining Authority in the determination of the DCO for East Anglia 1(N) and East Anglia 2 off shore windfarms.

Assington Nursery approval challenged – SPS has learnt that Assington Parish Council is preparing to challenge Babergh District Council’s approval of an application for a new children’s nursery on the edge of the village through a judicial review. The proposals were approved at the end of 2020 against the recommendation of the Planning Officer who considered that the harm to the landscape and heritage would outweigh the limited public benefits of relocating an existing business to this site. 

SPS had supported the Heritage Team at Babergh by calling for an appropriate assessment to be given to the impact on the setting of heritage assets including the grade I listed church of St Edmund and grade II listed Glebe House which would have had historical connections with the church.  The Parish Council also has serious highway safety concerns around the site.

Needham Market – application for 279 dwellings refused – SPS has welcomed the refusal of this application for the development of a greenfield site to the west of Needham Market. SPS had strongly objected to the proposals which, due to its rising topography of the site, would be particularly prominent within the landscape on the rural edge of the town. In addition, a previous application for 152 dwellings on the site had been refused due to highway issues and the unsustainable nature of the location.


East Anglian Daily Times – SPS Director’s column 11 February 2021

Look up at the sky and tell us what you see to help protect our Dark Skies